M-A (8-7-4) relied mostly on quick-strike counterattacks to get its offense in play in the first half and was effective in setting up a free kick for its first goal of the afternoon. Bolaños found a strong tactic by using some sweet footwork to tap a reverse pass back to senior Kieran Kunihiro, who drove across and moved to over to senior Toivo Zahir, who was fouled just outside of the penalty area.
Bolaños made the free kick count from 20 yards out, bending in a laser beam to cut SHP’s lead to 2-1.
“I’ve always said throughout the year, if we play the way we know how to play, we’re one of the best teams,” M-A head coach Leo Krupnik said. “But unfortunately, it has been too inconsistent throughout the year. And we paid for it at the end.”
The inconsistencies showed up in the second half when SHP stunted M-A’s counterattacks and forced them to play from side to side.
“I thought we really picked it up in the second half,” Frank said. “We had energy. But we were just trying to get the ball into the box, we just couldn’t get anything to go in.”
The Gators soon dealt a deflating blow when Deras re-upped the lead to 3-1 on an assist from Pi-Sunyer, as the two connected on a cross through the box for Deras to score back post.
“It was great because it destroyed the other team’s hopes of coming back,” Deras said. “And it set the gap between the score. It was a good feeling. I felt the connection when I hit the shot.”
Frank made it interesting in the 67th minute, scoring his second-ever varsity goal, and his first from the field. His only other goal this season was during penalty kicks in M-A’s 1-1 (4-2 on PKs) win over Mountain View in the CCS semifinals.
“I was on the sideline, and I was looking for a cross,” Frank said. “And I opened my hips to make it look I going to cross it in then I cut inside onto my left foot. Then I just took a shot, I think it deflected off a defender and then rolled in.”
As for the near miss between Aboudara and Stevenson in the 71st that nearly tied the game, Krupnik expressed frustration it was M-A’s only good chance of the second half.
“We’re not really looking for ways to win games like that,” Krupnik said. “We should have played our way. I can make all the excuses in the world, but it is what it is.”